I loved this book. It’s not for everyone because of the subject matter, I will say. It is raw, shocking, unapologetic, and perfectly written. I was completely absorbed in this book and it was hard to leave it for anything. I’d find myself standing in the kitchen making dinner with one hand and this book in my other hand. This is written in the viewpoint of 15 year old Minnie Goetze in diary entries. Right from the beginning, it chronicles Minnie’s affair with her Mom’s boyfriend Monroe Rutherford. I was completely engrossed in this book, and while nothing in the story is anywhere close to my own teenage years, it doesn’t take away from the power of the story. Especially since it is the story for many teenage girls. The descriptions and pictures can be graphic and there’s plenty of drug use, but it was honest. The narrative is never anything but. Minnie doesn’t hide that she wants to be touched, hugged, and loved, even by her mom. You can’t help but feel for a character that wants to be loved and have attention so badly. The book is a downward spiral and you feel things spinning out of control. The narrative makes it feel as if it is your story even though it can be so far from.
My favorite quote that sums up quite a bit of the story is
“I have seen many ugly things in my life. Somehow the effect is never sufficient. I will always return to the scene of the crime that I have not committed, because I feel responsible.
Should I be ashamed to admit that human deterioration is an eternal source of fascination to me?
Squalor is cozy to me and I love to place myself in situations of potential danger. My recklessness does not please me. I know that my sordid tastes are the expression of a death wish – I want to punish myself – I want to punish other people – I long to be alone but I long to be loved. The pain I feel is leading me into darkness.” (The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Phoebe Gloeckner)
That part is so very powerful, and something that probably most everyone can relate to at some point in their lives. Minnie is a relatable character. You don’t have to do drugs or have affairs to relate to her, especially when she wants to both be alone and loved simultaneously.
Of course this is more than just a diary, it is “An Account in words and pictures” as it says on the cover. Sometimes the interspersed comics go on for multiple pages, sometimes it’s a small picture that breaks up the text. The pictures are astounding. They’re intricately done and I found myself just looking at the pictures for quite awhile. Phoebe Gloeckner is a master of both word and picture and there is so much life in her work. If you can handle the graphic, raw subject matter that describes her affair with her boyfriend and her drug use, I highly recommend this.